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  • Writer's pictureJulia Smila

Exercising - Habit for your Physical and Mental Health.

Exercising is a vital part of a healthy life. Benefits of exercise for your physical health include joint flexibility, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, better sleep, healthy weight, mental health, etc.

However, just as with diet, there are many theories as to what type of exercise is the most beneficial. The real questions revolve around how and when one should exercise. Much of the “how” depends on what client is looking to achieve - lose weight or put on muscle or improve flexibility or have more energy and maintain overall health. But it does not depend only on Client’s goals.

When I recommend exercising regimen, I pay attention to the client’s phase of progression towards Chronic stress. For instance, clients at the Exhaustion phase (body is stressed, dealing with some form of disease) should be careful with exercising and prioritize Rest and Stress Reduction. At such a stage we can not set up a goal to build mussels. There are many exercises that the client should not be doing.

However, whatever the case may be, moderate exercise a few times per week is important for many reasons including mental wellbeing. Recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. The science behind why exercise can benefit your mental health:

  • Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins, which are the body's natural feel-good hormones, are helpful in reducing stress and sensations of pain, as well as promoting feelings of positivity.

  • Exercise promotes growth and connections for nerve cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps to regulate mood. This, in turn, can help alleviate depressive symptoms because increased nerve cell growth and connection improves our brain functioning and decreases the size of the hippocampus (a smaller hippocampus is linked to fewer depressive symptoms).

  • Exercise has been shown to help improve concentration and manage the symptoms of ADHD. Physical movement boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. Increased levels of each impact focus, attention, and stress levels.

  • Exercise can help you sleep better and better sleep is directly linked to improved brain functioning during waking hours. Just keep your moderate to high-intensity workouts to the morning or no more than 3 hours before bedtime so that your spiked state does not interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Even 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (cardio) can help you see a difference in sleep quality each night.

  • Aside from its biological benefits, exercise serves another important function: it serves as a distraction that gets people out of their brains and into their bodies. In doing so, it can help individuals focus more on the present moment, rather than fixating on negative thoughts or feelings. This is a key component of mindfulness. Shifting your focus can be a difficult skill to learn for many people. Exercise makes the shift in focus easier because you have to pay attention to what your body is doing, thereby naturally distracting your mind.

Keep moving, and keep in mind that you should always listen to your body.

There are a few recommendations below you should follow:

  • Don’t sit too long at work, make it a priority to get up every 30 minutes to move your body.

  • Start a short daily exercise routine, such as yoga or walking outside. Doing something active that is enjoyable is a huge part of getting and staying fit.

  • Do not remain sedentary for the majority of your day - walk to work, park far away from the doors, take the stairs, enjoy being outside and in nature, take a walk around the block. Get outside barefoot and breathe in some fresh air.

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